Ammonia is a highly toxic chemical with a strong smell. It’s not only bad for humans and animals but also bad for the environment. Ammonia is one of the biggest contributors to nitrogen pollution.

Now you probably are wondering, what kind of matter ammonia is, am I right?

Is ammonia an element, compound, or mixture?

Ammonia (NH3) is a compound as it consists of two different kind of atoms which are Nitrogen and Hydrogen. The atom of Nitrogen (N) bond with 3 atoms of Hydrogen (H) chemically, forming a covalent bond.

The rest of this article will dig deeper on why ammonia is a compound as opposed to an element or mixture.

So keep on reading and keep on learning!

What Is An Element?

In science, an element is a pure substance that consists of only 1 single type of atom. Thus, it cannot be broken down to produce another substance.

Atom is the smallest constituent of every matter. It’s super small you cannot even see it using a regular microscope.

An element can be monoatomic (made of 1 atom), such as Neon (Ne) and Argon (Ar). An element can also be diatomic (composed of 2 atoms to make elemental molecules), such as Oxygen (O2) and Nitrogen (N2).

No matter how many atoms an element has, an element must come from the same kind of atom.

Because an element purely consists of 1 single type of atom, it cannot be broken down into other substances. No matter how many times you try to break it down, it’s still the same element.

There are 118 elements in the periodic table. Each of them has special characteristics.

Some examples of elements are Sodium (Na, with atomic number of 11), Aluminum, (Al, with atomic number of 13), and Carbon (Fe, with atomic number of 26)

An element can be combined with another one to form a compound or mixture.

What Is A Compound?

A compound is a material that consists of two or more elements that bond chemically and has a fixed ratio in composition.

The bond between the elements can be ionic or covalent.

Since the constituents of compound bond chemically, they can be separated through a chemical process, not a physical one.

Some examples of compound or CO2 (Carbon dioxide), NaCl (Sodium chloride a.k.a salt), and H2O (water).

What Is A Mixture?

A mixture in science is a material that consists of two or more elements that combine physically without making chemical bond. A mixture doesn’t have to have a fixed ratio in composition.

Mixture can be categorized into homogeneous mixture and heterogeneous mixture.

When a mixture is the same throughout no matter where you pick it, it’s considered homogeneous. Some examples of the homogeneous mixture are milkshake, steel, and vinegar.

When a mixture is not consistent, means you can see the separation or difference with your bare eye, it’s heterogeneous. Some examples of the heterogeneous mixture are a glass of water with ice, a bowl of oil and water, and a bucket of sand and water.

Is Ammonia a Compound or Mixture?

Ammonia (NH3) consists of two different kind of elements which are Nitrogen and Hydrogen that bond CHEMICALLY, thus ammonia is a compound, not a mixture.

To be considered a compound, a material should consist of two or more elements that bond chemically and has a definite ratio of composition.

If a material consists of two or more elements that have no definite composition, it’s considered a mixture.

Ammonia suits the requirement to be considered a COMPOUND. Ammonia is not a mixture as it doesn’t suit the criterion.

Why Is Ammonia Not An Element?

Ammonia is not an element because it’s made of two different elements which are Nitrogen and Hydrogen, while an element is a pure substance that only made of a single type of atom.

To be considered an element, a material should only be consists of purely 1 type of atom/element without any addition from other elements.

Some examples of elements are Oxygen (O2), Hydrogen (H2), and Nitrogen (N2).

Is Ammonia Organic or Inorganic?

Ammonia (NH3) is inorganic because it does not contain the carbon atom (C). Ammonia only consists of two types of atoms which are Nitrogen (N) and Hydrogen (H).

In chemistry, a compound is considered organic when it contains the bond of carbon and hydrogen (C-H).

Some examples of organic compounds are salt (NaCl), water (H2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

Inorganic compounds can be easily found in non-living objects while organic compounds is mainly found in living organisms.

Is Ammonia Acidic or Alkaline?

Ammonia (NH3) is alkaline with the pH of 11, approximately.

To determine whether a substance is acidic or alkaline, you can use a pH meter to test the pH. If it’s below 7, it’s acidic and if it’s above 7, it’s alkaline.

In Chemistry, you can predict whether something is an acid or base by looking at the hydrogen. According to the Bronsted-Lowry theory, Something is considered an acid when it donates hydrogen ion (H+), and it’s base when it receives hydrogen ion (H+).

When ammonia (NH3) dissolves in water, there is a chemical reaction going on.

NH3 (aq) + H2O (l) <-> NH4+ (aq) + OH- (aq)

The hydrogen ion is transferred from the H20 (water) to the NH3 (ammonia). Therefore, NH3 is a Bronsted-Lowry base.


So, ammonia (NH3) consists of two different type of atoms, which are Nitrogen and Hydrogen that combine chemically. Therefore, it’s a compound. Therefore it’s NOT an element or mixture.

Ammonia is an inorganic compound since it doesn’t contain a C-H bond and it’s alkaline since it acts as a hydrogen ion acceptor.

Daniel Smithson

Hi, I'm Daniel Smithson, a Chemistry teacher for over 35-years and the founder of Learning should be fun and accessible to all. Find out more about our mission here:

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